23-year-old Jonathan, a Singaporean international law student in London was attacked unprovoked earlier this month. “We don’t want your coronavirus in our country”, they shouted.
During a pandemic, what spreads is not only a virus but also fear.
The impact on lives, plans and hearts
Beginning in Wuhan, China, COVID-19 swept across the East Asian nations and has now reached every corner of the planet. In many countries, schools and universities are closed and employees are working from home.
In the world of student ministry, training, camps and events have already been postponed or cancelled, or are looking doubtful. One particularly close to my heart is the triennial East Asia Regional Conference, due to take place in Thailand in July. We were expecting more than 600 students to attend. To cancel such a strategic event would be a huge loss.
People are paralysed with fear. We have been confronted with our frailty and vulnerability by a microscopic, yet potentially fatal virus.
Yes, we are facing a fiery trial indeed. But how are we as Christians to respond?
Seek the Lord
Rather than panicking, Christians can respond differently. In the Bible, when facing trials, godly leaders showed one clear response: coming to the Lord in prayer and confession. We are to face our suffering squarely, and seek the Lord.
King Solomon prayed for the Israelites (and then similarly for the nations):
“When famine or plague comes to the land… whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel – being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple – then hear from heaven, your dwelling place…”2 Chronicles 6:28-30 NIV
So too, we are to pray, confident that He hears. In East Asia, we are using our noon time to share prayer items and spend time praying for the people and situation. Through this epidemic, we are learning to humbly submit to the sovereignty of our Lord.
Love the least
Another Christian responsibility during this trial is to practice compassion for the marginalised. Whenever there is suffering, the less privileged are the first ones to suffer.
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